Friday, July 1, 2011

Forbidden by Tabitha Sazuma

Cover Image

Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Lochan and sixteen-year-old Maya have always felt more like friends than siblings. Together they have stepped in for their alcoholic, wayward mother to take care of their three younger siblings. As defacto parents to the little ones, Lochan and Maya have had to grow up fast. And the stress of their lives—and the way they understand each other so completely—has also also brought them closer than two siblings would ordinarily be. So close, in fact, that they have fallen in love. Their clandestine romance quickly blooms into deep, desperate love. They know their relationship is wrong and cannot possibly continue. And yet, they cannot stop what feels so incredibly right. As the novel careens toward an explosive and shocking finale, only one thing is certain: a love this devastating has no happy ending.

First of all, sorry I haven't reviewed any books in awhile. However, this book is the reason I decided to start reviewing again, or at least try to, because this is a book I will not be able to stop thinking about.

Forbidden starts out by taking a very real and heartbreaking look at a family, in particular siblings Lochan and Maya who have been forced to grow up too fast. With an often absent, alcoholic mother, and a father who deserted the family years ago, Lochan and Maya must assume responsibility for their 3 younger siblings: Kit, a 13-year-old who has taken to smoking and hanging out with a nasty crowd of kids, Tiffan, a rambunctious 8-year-old, and 5-year-old Willa.

Lochan and Maya are only 13 months apart, and have been best friends for as long as they can remember. Due to Lochan's overwhelming fear of speaking in public, he is often looked at as a freak and a loner, but at home he is the surrogate father in his dysfunctional family. As Lochan and Maya begin to work harder to keep their family from being split up, as their mother begins to make her full exit from the family, they realize that their love for each other goes deeper than just siblings or friends.

Tabitha Sazuma has a true gift for writing. The way she portrays these five siblings will make you fall in love with them, rooting for them despite everything that is thrown their way. Even as the romance aspect begins to be part of Lochan and Maya's life, I think you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn't wish for there to be a happy ending for them.

This story was haunting and beautiful. I honestly don't remember the last time I cried so much after reading a book. I know that I won't be able to stop thinking about these characters and their story for a very, very long time.

Rating: A+
Warning: This book is not suitable for younger readers. It contains intimate details of Lochan and Maya's relationship that might make some readers uncomfortable.

Other Recommended Books: (I haven't read either of these books, I just know that they also involve similar incestual themes and could perhaps be of interest to readers of Forbidden)

  • Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews
  • Illyria by Elizabeth Hand

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Mermaid's Mirror- L.K. Madigan


"Lena has lived her whole life near the beach—walking for miles up and down the shore and breathing the salty air, swimming in the cold water, and watching the surfers rule the waves—the problem is, she’s spent her whole life just watching.

As her sixteenth birthday approaches, Lena vows she will no longer watch from the sand: she will learn to surf.

But her father – a former surfer himself – refuses to allow her to take lessons. After a near drowning in his past, he can’t bear to let Lena take up the risky sport.

Yet something lures Lena to the water … an ancient, powerful magic. One morning Lena catches sight of this magic: a beautiful woman—with a silvery tail.

Nothing will keep Lena from seeking the mermaid, not even the dangerous waves at Magic Crescent Cove.

And soon … what she sees in the mermaid’s mirror will change her life …"

Summary: I blogged earlier in the year about L.K. Madigan, who was facing stage IV pancreatic cancer. I entered a contest to win her two books and was one of the winners. Unfortunately, a few weeks ago L.K. Madigan passed away, however her books will live on. I have already reviewed Flash Burnout, her first novel, and very much recommend it. Now onto my review of The Mermaid's Mirror.

I don't usually read books that feature mermaids. I haven't actually come across many, but I feel like they are creatures that are hard to put into stories. L.K. Madigan however, was able to write them and this entire story brilliantly.

One thing I loved about this book, as well as Flash Burnout, is how wonderfully her characters are created. Lena, as well has her family and friends, are all incredibly real. They are unique too. I read a lot of books where the main characters or the secondary characters are sort of interchangeable, but the characters L.K. Madigan wrote are characters with specific quirks and personalities that I know I won't forget.

I thought that the way Lena was connected to the mermaids was well written. I also really enjoyed the great amount of thought that was put into the mermaids and their lives and culture. Although L.K. Madigan had intended to write a sequel before she dies, this book works very well as a standalone book, which I was very happy about.

Finally I would like to send my condolences to the authors family, and note that a college fund has been set up for her son if anyone would like to donate to it. Checks can be made out to the Nathan Wolfeson Trust and sent to:

Becker Capital Management, Inc.
Attn: Sharon Gueck/John Becker
1211 Fifth Avenue, Suite 2185
Portland, OR 97204
Rating: A-

Other Recommended Books:
Flash Burnout by L.K. Madigan
The Undrowned Child by Michelle Lovric

Monday, March 7, 2011

Wither- Lauren DeStefano



"What if you knew exactly when you would die?

Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.

When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limted time she has left."

Summary: Even though this book isn't due out until March 22, I read it thanks to this wonderful website that lets teens read and review books online for free.

Ever since I watched a few episodes of that TV show Sister Wives I have found the concept of polygamy interesting. There is a large social stigma against it in the United States, however, not all polygamist marriages are like the awful ones you hear about with child brides being forced into marriages with older men.

Anyways, when I heard about this book that was both dystopian and featured a polygamist way of life in order to try and produce more kids in a time when women die at age 20 and men at 25, I definitely wanted to read it.

I really loved this book. I think my favorite part were the characters. Even though I sympathized with Rhine for being stolen away to be a wife, it was hard to hate her husband Linden, who was clearly not the evil mastermind his father was. I loved watching the bond develop between Rhine and her sister wives. Even though the youngest, Cecily, was a little annoying, being forced into the situation they were in made friendships develop that really show sort of what it is like in a polygamist marriage with the wives in as much of a relationship of sorts with each other as they are with their husband. Obviously in a friendship sort of way.

And then there was Gabriel. The sweet, servant boy who Rhine befriends and who is the only one she can share her actual thoughts and feeling with.

I thought that the way Lauren DeStefano had with words made the story and all of the characters seem so real, and made a story, which sort of seems implausible, actually really work.

This is probably the third or so dystopian novel I've read this year that really had a focus not on the characters changing the entire world, but just changing their own lives, and I've found that to be a refreshing change. I honestly can't wait to see what happens from here and to read the next two books once they are released.

Rating: A

Other Recommended Books:
Matched by Ally Condie
Bumped by Megan McCafferty
The Declaration by Gemma Malley

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sapphique- Catherine Fisher

Warning: Sequel to Incarceron, will contain spoilers for said book.


"Incarceron, the living prison, has lost one of its inmates to the outside world: Finn's escaped, only to find that Outside is not at all what he expected. Used to the technologically advanced, if violently harsh, conditions of the prison, Finn is now forced to obey the rules of Protocol, which require all people to live without technology. To Finn, Outside is just a prison of another kind, especially when Claudia, the daughter of the prison's warden, declares Finn the lost heir to the throne. When another claimant emerges, both Finn's and Claudia's very lives hang on Finn convincing the Court of something that even he doesn't fully believe.

Meanwhile, Finn's oathbrother Keiro, and his friend Attia, are still trapped inside Incarceron. They are searching for a magical glove, which legend says Sapphique used to escape. To find it, they must battle the prison itself, because Incarceron needs the glove too."

Review: Following up only a little while after the first book left off, Sapphique is just as exciting and mystifying as its predecessor.

Just as Incarceron was told, the story switches between the point of view of those inside the prison, and those outside of it. Only this time Finn is outside the prison, playing the role of Prince Giles. As another boy shows up claiming to be the same missing prince, it becomes unclear who is telling the truth, if either of them. Claudia must choose who to back in the battle, even as her own life is put at stake.

As for inside the prison, Attia and Keiro are still trying to escape. A new character, a magician named Rix, who may or may not have Sapphique's glove.

Another interesting character in the story continues to be the prison itself. It reminds me a lot of the house from that Disney TV movie Smart House, where the house comes to life and holds the family hostage.

Anyways, this book is a delightful, intensely exciting read, just as Incarceron was. More mysteries are revealed, including secrets about the very world Claudia lives in.

I would highly recommend this book and the entire duology to lovers of dystopian lit and steampunk.

Rating: A+

Other Recommended Books:
The Maze Runner by James Dashner (If you really enjoyed Finn's part of the book)
Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
A Great and Terrible Beauty Series by Libba Bray (If you really enjoyed Claudia's part of the book)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Paranormalcy- Kiersten White


"Weird as it is working for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, Evie's always thought of herself as normal. Sure, her best friend is a mermaid, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals' glamours, but still. 


Only now paranormals are dying, and Evie's dreams are filled with haunting voices and mysterious prophecies. She soon realizes that there may be a link between her abilities and the sudden rash of deaths. Not only that, but she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.

So much for normal."

Summary: I don't usually read books with vampires or werewolves or the like, but I decided to give this one a shot after hearing such rave reviews.

While this book didn't quite live up to those reviews, it was definitely a fun read. One of the things I liked most about this book was how Evie came across as just a normal girl. She wants normal things. Normal friends, a "normal" life, to go to a normal school, and to have a normal boyfriend.

What she does have is a pink taser named Tasey, a best friend who lives in an aquarium, and a problem with a certain faerie named Reth who just won't leave her alone.

Before I read this book I had heard a lot about the two boys vying for Evie's attention- Reth and Lend, and how both of them were great choices. In fact, here is what author Aprilynne Pike says about them on the back cover of the book. "Paranormalcy seduced me. The two sexy paranormals who view for Evie's affections each had their own victory; one won Evie's heart, and the other won mine."

After reading the book I have a slight problem with that. There is nothing wonderful about both boys. Lend is wonderful. I can be a complete sap at times, and I adored how kind and caring he was and I loved every moment of the book that he was in.

Reth on the other hand is crazy. Certainly he's magnetic and attractive, but he also frightens Evie, shows up when and where he isn't wanted, and causes all sorts of trouble. He's not even sexy in a bad boy sort of way. He's a total creeper, in my opinion.

But hey, that's what's great about books. We can judge them and their characters for ourselves.

This book is the first in a trilogy. The second, Supernaturally, will be released in the fall. So if you like books with paranormal characters or fun, sweet romances, check out this first book.

Rating: B

Other Recommended Reads:
Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer
The Hourglass Door Series by Lisa Mangum
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (not paranormal, but a cute, fun romance story)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Incarceron- Catherine Fisher

NOTE: Read as part of Dystopian February


"Incarceron is a prison unlike any other: It’s inmates live not only in cells, but also in metal forests, dilapidated cities, and unbounded wilderness. The prison has been sealed for centuries, and only one man, legend says, has ever escaped.

Finn, a seventeen-year-old prison, can’t remember his childhood and believes he came from Outside Incarceron. he’s going to escape, even though most inmates don’t believe that Outside even exists. And then Finn finds a crystal key and through it, a girl named Claudia.

Claudia claims to live Outside — her father is the Warden of Incarceron and she’s doomed to an arranged marriage. If she helps Finn escape, she will need his help in return.

But they don’t realize that there is more to Incarceron than meets the eye. Escape will take their greatest courage and cost far more than they know.


Summary: I've been meaning to read this book for quite some time and when I saw that my local library had a copy I was incredibly excited and checked it out, and I'm so glad I did.

Incarceron is told through two points of view- Finn, a prisoner in Incarceron who is convinced he is from the outside and Claudia, a girl destined to be queen who only wants not to have to marry Casper, the queen's son.

Claudia is from the outside, a world that was once, and secretly still is, incredibly technologically advanced, but is trapped in the past. The 1700s, to be exact. Although everyone knows about the advanced technology, and some of it is secretly used (modern bathrooms, washing machines, etc), by the degree of King Endor, progress has been halted. Thus, the world Claudia inhabits is a world where she must dress in petticoats and fine clothing, observe proper manners and act like the well bred girl she was brought up to be.

This however, does not suit Claudia. From the beginning of the book we see that Claudia, along with her tutor Jared Sapiens, one of the Sapient branch of people who were at the forefront of former technological advancements, will not sit back content as her father controls her future. Thus, when she finds a key that allows her to communicate with Finn, from the prison, she is determined to break him out and change her own destiny.

I loved the setting of Claudia's world. I thought it was fascinating how their society was futuristic but trapped in the past.

Likewise, I loved reading about the scenes in Incarceron. The idea of a prison that is essentially alive is so intriguing and I loved all of the characters that joined Finn as he tried to find out his true identity.

This book was wonderful the entire way through and honestly had some of the best plot twists I have ever read in a book. When large secrets began to be revealed about Incarceron, Finn, and Claudia I thought they were brilliant and I absolutely cannot wait to read the sequel Sapphique.

This is definitely the best book I've read all year and in a very long time.

Rating: A+

Other Recommended Books:
The Maze Runner by James Dashner (If you really enjoyed Finn's part of the book)
Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
A Great and Terrible Beauty Series by Libba Bray (If you really enjoyed Claudia's part of the book)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I Am Number Four- Pittacus Lore


"We may be walking past you right now.

We are watching as you read this.

We may be in your city, your town.

We are living anonymously.

We are waiting for the day when

We will find each other.

We will make our last stand together—if

We win,

We are saved, and

You are saved as well.

If we lose, all is lost."

Summary: As a baby Number 4, or John Smith as he's now going by, left his wartorn dying planet of Lorien for Earth along with eight other children and their adult guardians. Pursued to Earth by the Mogadorians who destroyed their first planet, all nine children must remain alive- the fate of the world depends on it.

Bound together by a bond that allows the children to be killed by the Mogadorians only in the order of their numbers, John Smith is next in line to die. Numbers 1, 2 and 3 are dead.

He is number 4.

I've been wanting to read this book for awhile. I had heard only good things about it, and I have been dying to see the movie.

The book didn't quite live up to my expectations. While I enjoyed the actual plot and the action scenes, I felt that the relationship development, at least in regards to John and girlfriend/love interest Sarah, was very much lacking. However, as this is not primarily a romance novel but more of an action one, I think it was something I could sort of, but not completely overlook.

I think this book will adapt well to a movie form, although I think in order to maintain a level of interest throughout the movie I expect a lot of changes from the original book. This book reminded me of a cross between the tv shows Heroes and Smallville, with the main character John gaining some really cool powers throughout the book.

Though this is not a favorite book, I am excited for both the movie and the next book which will be called The Power of Six.

Rating: B

Other Recommended Books:
The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Gone Series by Michael Grant
Elder's Game by Orson Scott Card
Pendragon Series by D. J. MacHale

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Bumped (ARC)- Megan McCafferty

Read as part of Dystopian February.


"When a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, would-be parents must pay teen girls to conceive and give birth to their children, making teens the most prized members of society.

Sixteen-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony were separated at birth and had never met until the day Harmony shows up on Melody’s doorstep. Until now, the twins have followed completely opposite paths. Melody has scored an enviable conception contract with a couple called the Jaydens. While they search for the perfect partner for Melody to bump with, she is fighting her attraction to her best friend, Zen, who is way too short for the job.

Harmony has spent her whole life in religious Goodside, preparing to be a wife and mother. She believes her calling is to convince Melody that pregging for profit is a sin. But Harmony has secrets of her own that she is running from.

When Melody is finally matched with the world-famous, genetically flawless Jondoe, both girls’ lives are changed forever. A case of mistaken identity takes them on a journey neither could have ever imagined, one that makes Melody and Harmony realize they have so much more than just DNA in common.

From New York Times bestselling author Megan McCafferty comes a strikingly original look at friendship, love, and sisterhood—in a future that is eerily believable."


So if you have been following my blog, you'll know that I posted about a contest for an Advanced Reader's Copy of Bumped by Megan McCafferty, which I can now say I was lucky enough to have won. Thanks so much to Megan McCafferty, HarperCollins Publishers and the host of the wonderful contest over at

I received the book in the mail today and read it all so here are my thoughts.

Now, I read a lot of dystopian novels. Dystopian lit, especially YA Dystopian books are my absolute favorite. Generally however, they involve corrupt governments or large plans of rebellion, and Bumped is not like that at all. Bumped is a book that could almost take place today if a virus struck that made almost everyone over the age of 18 infertile.

In this book a pro-pregnancy culture arises. Teens if they are lucky enough can score a contract to give birth to babies in exchange for a fully paid college tuition, or a car, or a 6 figure bonus. Those who are less lucky become amateurs, getting pregnant and taking bids after the baby is born.

The two narrators of this story, Melody and Harmony begin from very different places. Melody has been raised to be the perfect surrogate, Harmony has been raised in a church community which condemns such acts.

While I wasn't always a huge fan of  how preachy Harmony was, I liked seeing her own secrets and thoughts revealed as the story went on. I also liked seeing Melody's transition from perfect daughter and surrogate to a teen who wants to take control of her own life.

As I am not a fan of shows like 16 and Pregnant or Teen Mom, I was perhaps a little less interested in reading about all the pregnancy aspects of this book. However, I did enjoy the character growth and interaction and thinking about my own views on teen pregnancy.

Definitely an interesting read. I'll be excited to read the sequel when it is released.

Bumped will be released on April 26, 2011.

Rating: B+

Other Recommended Reads:
The Declaration Trilogy by Gemma Malley
Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Matched by Ally Condie

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Replacement- Brenna Yovanoff


"Mackie Doyle is not one of us. Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, he comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. 

He is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is fighting to survive in the human world. 

Mackie would give anything to live among us. He just wants to play bass guitar and find out more about an oddly intriguing girl named Tate.

 But when Tate's baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place, in our world, or theirs."

Summary: I have honestly never read anything like this book. When I first saw the cover I knew I wanted to read it, which is slightly strange as I don't usually like anything remotely creepy. However this book is the exception to that rule.

Mackie Doyle is a character who isn't normal. He isn't human, he's from belowground, a castoff placed into a crib of a murdered baby as a replacement. He was supposed to die, but instead he lives, thanks a great deal to his loving older sister Emma.

I found this cast of characters, especially Mackie, to be charming. Mackie is a little creepy if you didn't know him, but he is a sweet, caring kid who absolutely loves his older sister Emma. He is portrayed to the town as a sort of a rebel. His father is a minister, but because he can't step foot on hallowed ground, Mackie has never been inside the church.

Something I found interesting about the book is the way the town sort of knows that every 7 years a child is sacrificed for prosperity and they just let it happen. It isn't directly talked about and no one, until Tate speaks out, mentions that the children who are buried in their town aren't really the children everyone knew and loved.

While the plot of this story was not very complex, the characters were fun to read about and really grew on me. I thought the plot was incredibly unique and managed to make things that are creepy and ugly become really beautiful, especially with Mackie, who doesn't really belong with the ugly, dead (or perhaps undead) creatures from below the slag heap.

One last general note about the story. For those of you looking for a genuinely creepy story that will give you nightmares, this really isn't it. Some parts of the story are rather creepy but in a very light sort of way. The fact that I could read it without ever becoming freaked out is a good indicator of this as I hate all things frightening.

Rating: A-

Other Recommended Books:
Cirque du Freak Series by Darren Shan
The Forest of Hands and Teeth and The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Book Contest- Other Words for Love

Hey everyone, here's a contest you can enter for a signed hardcover copy of Other Words for Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal that you can check out here!